The Hindu

India’s IT Guy

India’s IT Guy

F.C.Kohli says it is time for the government to encourage domestic software development—especially software that can “speak” Indian languages. “Only then can we develop India-unique application systems to improve efficiencies within the country,” he says. “Then the computer can become a real instrument for national growth.”Since retiring in 2000, Kohli has been working in an honorary capacity with the Tata Group to find ways of using computers as tools for India’s development. A voracious reader who devours thrillers and statistical reports alike, he was appalled […]



LiquiGlide

LiquiGlide

Frugal Indian housewives, who extract the very last traces of condiments from unyielding bottles and jars, will be the first to appreciate the genius of LiquiGlide, which Time magazine has named one of the “Best Inventions of the Year 2012.” Prof. Kripa Varanasi’s group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has developed a super-slippery, non-toxic coating for the insides of food containers, so these surfaces will concede the stored condiment down to the last drop. No scraping, rinsing or special maneuvers required. “And the compound is safe […]



A Biological Battery

A Biological Battery

Plugging into sources of energy within our body — such as heat, internal motion or metabolites — to power implanted medical devices has long been the goal of biomedical engineers. Now researchers based in Cambridge, Massachusetts have demonstrated that a sensing device embedded in the ear can be powered by the ear’s own electrochemical battery. Our auditory mechanism picks up external sounds and sends information to the brain in the form of neural signals. When the sound wave hits the ear, the eardrum vibrates in […]



I’ve been called a girl geek

I’ve been called a girl geek

Angela Saini is an award-winning independent journalist based in London. Before going freelance, she worked as a reporter for the BBC, but her very first journalism job was with The Hindu’s Frontline magazine in New Delhi. Later, in 2009, she took a trip to Mumbai to write a story about lie detectors and was amazed by the breadth of government science initiatives and the sudden burst of R&D centres all over the country. A book idea was born. For Geek Nation: How Indian Science is […]



Cosmic Quest

Cosmic Quest

Anil Ananthaswamy is the author of The Edge of Reason, a work of narrative non-fiction. The book tells the story of scientists whose research into the workings of the universe takes them to remote places. And, it celebrates those very destinations which make certain scientific discoveries possible. The London-based writer and engineer from IIT-Madras talks about how the book came into being. Read a Q &A with the author here.



Towards low-tech, high-value solutions for disabilities

Towards low-tech, high-value solutions for disabilities

“Watch out for falling legs,” Amos Winter, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduate student, warns. The legs in question are prosthetic limbs of rubberised material. This is at the Mobility Lab, M-Lab for short, a workshop for an MIT undergraduate course of the same name. Students use this space to design mobility aids. Mr. Winter teaches wheelchair design; Goutam Reddy, a recent MIT graduate, focuses on artificial foot design. “This course is a great way to apply theoretical principles taught in mechanical engineering classes […]



An energy-efficient microchip

A cell phone dying at a crucial moment, a digital camera that warns of low power at a perfect photo opportunity or a laptop inopportunely running out of juice — many of us have had such vexing experiences firsthand. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Texas Instruments (TI) have designed a chip, ten times more energy-efficient than existing ones, to keep portable devices going longer. Because of the lower power consumption, the batteries of these mobile devices and vital medical implants do not […]



Unravelling Mysteries of Ancient Human Migration

Where did humans originate and how did they populate the entire globe? Scientists may finally be able to answer these fundamental questions when they have enough DNA samples from people all over the world. The Genographic Project attempts to trace the ancient journey of man through the genetic analysis of present-day populations on every continent. This nonprofit, five-year research partnership of National Geographic and IBM is led by geneticist Dr. Spencer Wells with support from the Waitt Family Foundation. India is one of the ten […]



Gifts from the Mangroves

Every major Hindu shrine has a sacred tree which is revered as much as the presiding deity. At Chidambaram’s Nataraja temple, the honour goes to the thillai tree, a mangrove species (botanical name Exocoeria agallocha). Temple sculpture depicting the tree dates back to the second century A.D, the thillai grows in abundance in the Pichavaram wetlands nearby. Over 100 different plant species fall under the category of mangroves with unique characteristics that help them grow on land where rivers meet the sea. Apart from minimising damage to life […]



Down the Infinite Corridor of Learning

Professor R.S. Kumar, the unassuming head of the computer science department of Bannari Amman College of Technology in South India, still remembers that Google search from five years ago. Sitting at his office desk, he keyed in the search strings “computer science” and “course material.” Within minutes, he stumbled on a semester’s worth of first-rate course material on several subjects of interest — from software engineering to artificial intelligence — laid out on an Massachusetts Institute of Technology website. The chance discovery gave him insight into […]